The Government, Guns and Drugs


drugsI was once asked if I ever sold drugs; after getting over the initial shock of the question and realizing it was being asked by someone not even remotely interested in his own question I laid down the hammer and told him I considered selling drugs an act of treason and therefore punishable by death.  It’s treasonous I told the young man because the proliferation of drugs in a community is meant to render that group of people inert to the issues facing our country and disinterested in engaging in them.  Using drugs or people who peddle them are no better than people who practice slavery I said. My reply fell on deaf ears.

I was aware of the claims made by Gary Webb in  his “Dark Alliance” newspaper series that the US government has had a hand in the proliferation of drugs in the African-American community and that its intent was pretty much as I described to my interlocutor to destroy the black community.  When Webb first printed his articles he was driven to suicide but we all know there was merit to his assertions.  Indeed some preceded Webb in saying the same things.  The US government introduces drugs into a segment of the population, reaps the financial rewards thereof, the social advantages of making an entire population static non participants in their political, economic, social, or educational future. The existence of the government’s product necessitates government intervention, bureaucracy in the form of all the various agencies that must be employed to fight the war on drugs thereby legitimizing government itself.  A pretty neat slight of hand but only for government…for the people who are preyed upon by government it means their literal destruction or at least reduction to a comatose state where they are no longer relevant. Which brings me to Israel and Palestine.

I literally bolted out of my chair when I heard the Democracy Now interview last week with Budour Hassan talking about the situation in one of the refugee camps, Shuafat refugee camp and what goes on there.  She said this

……Subhi Abu Khalifa lives in Shuafat refugee camp, which is literally a ghetto, which the Israeli occupation since the 1970s has tried to crush with all means possible, turning it into a poverty hub, turning—putting drugs in the camp, smuggling arms to some of the residents. So they’ve tried to do everything in the camp, not just to destroy the community there, but to also prevent this camp from being active in the Palestinian resistance movement.

I thought finally, the US has taught Israel a thing or two about oppression…..America has at least at some point in the relationship between Israel and the US been a leader, not a follower of the Israeli agenda.  Everything about the US-Israel relationship has been completely and utterly one sided.  America has been the sole servant to Israeli interests even when they contradicted our own.  Now I had in front of me an example where Israel was doing the very same things to Palestinians living in the squalor of their Israeli imposed existence with the same diet of drugs and guns that have destroyed African-American communities being used to wipe out Palestinians as well.  In the interest of fairness it must be said Americans have resumed following Israel by parroting extra judicial killings of oppressed people without repercussion; #blacklivesmatter is an outgrowth of that but Israel has the advantage of looking at how that deadly cocktail of drugs and guns can benefit government in many ways and we can say they learned that from us.  #AmericanExceptionalism!

American justice is NOT the same for everyone


Don’t think so?  Ask Chris Hayes, who recently said this about his experience with drugs and law enforcement officials

“I can tell you as sure as I’m sitting here before you that if I was a black kid with cornrows instead of a white kid with glasses, my ass would’ve been in the back of a squad car faster than you can say George W. Bush.

It’s not just with drugs, however that this disparity in justice between black and white is evident, it’s also about perception.  There is this notion that crime is only committed by people of color and only they deserve the attention of the justice system.

On April 29, 2012, I put on a suit and tie and took the No. 3 subway line to the Junius Avenue stop in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville. At the time, the blocks around this stop were a well-known battleground in the stop-and-frisk wars: Police had stopped 14,000 residents 52,000 times in four years. I figured this frequency would increase my chances of getting to see the system in action, but I faced a significant hurdle: Though I’ve spent years living and working in neighborhoods like Brownsville, as a white professional, the police have never eyed me suspiciously or stopped me for routine questioning. I would have to do something creative to get their attention.

As I walked around that day, I held a chipboard graffiti stencil the size of a piece of poster board and two cans of spray paint. Simply carrying those items qualified as a class B misdemeanor pursuant to New York Penal Law 145.65. If police officers were doing their jobs, they would have no choice but to stop and question me.

I kept walking and reached a bodega near the Rockaway Avenue subway station. Suddenly, a young black man started yelling at me to get out of Brownsville, presumably concluding from my skin color and my suit that I did not belong there. Three police officers heard the commotion and came running down the stairs. They reached me and stopped.

“What’s going on?” one asked.

“Nothing,” I told them.

“What does that say?” the officer interrupted me, incredulously, as the other two gathered around. I held the stencil up for them to read.

“What are you, some kind of asshole?” he asked.

I stood quietly, wondering whether they would arrest me or write a summons. The officers grumbled a few choice curse words and then ran down the stairs in pursuit of the young man. Though I was the one clearly breaking a law, they went after him.

Eventually the writer of the piece above was arrested and inordinately punished for bringing attention to the differences people of color face when confronted by America’s judicial system.  But this isn’t news….merely an affirmation of what has been said repeatedly and unfortunately hasn’t changed very much since.

 

Afghan Women: A Political Football for Western Feminists


AfghanIt all started back in 2001 with Laura Bush when she gave the rallying cry, “Afghan women know, through hard experience, what the rest of the world is discovering: The brutal oppression of women is a central goal of the terrorists”, which was one of the justifications for the US military invasion of Afghanistan.  Of course after the legitimacy of the invasion was accepted by the majority of Americans, Bush had little to say about the treatment of Afghani women under a newly installed and US backed government, even though it’s record of women’s rights was as deplorable as it was under the Taleban.  The lip service of the feminist movement given to the plight of Afghan women has been insulting to Afghani women who view with a certain disdain the paternalistic attitude some Western women bring to the discussion of women’s rights for people that are  as far removed from the West as can be.

Now comes word, Afghan women are again in the cross hairs of the feminist movement, with one group, the Feminist Majority Foundation, lending its moral support for the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, stating as one of its objectives: Increase security and safety for Afghan people, especially women and girls, by increasing the number of US combat troops in Afghanistan.

Addressing this point other more politically aware feminists had this to say:

First of all, coalition troops are combat forces and are there to fight a war, not to preserve peace. Not even the Pentagon uses that language to describe U.S. forces there. More importantly, the tired claim that one of the chief objectives of the military occupation of Afghanistan is to liberate Afghan women is not only absurd, it is offensive.

Waging war does not lead to the liberation of women anywhere. Women always disproportionately suffer the effects of war, and to think that women’s rights can be won with bullets and bloodshed is a position dangerous in its naïveté. The Feminist Majority should know this instinctively.

Here are the facts: After the invasion, Americans received reports that newly liberated women had cast off their burquas and gone back to work. Those reports were mythmaking and propaganda. Aside from a small number of women in Kabul, life for Afghan women since the fall of the Taliban has remained the same or become much worse.

Under the Taliban, women were confined to their homes. They were not allowed to work or attend school. They were poor and without rights. They had no access to clean water or medical care, and they were forced into marriages, often as children.

Today, women in the vast majority of Afghanistan live in precisely the same conditions, with one notable difference: they are surrounded by war. The conflict outside their doorsteps endangers their lives and those of their families. It does not bring them rights in the household or in public, and it confines them even further to the prison of their own homes. Military escalation is just going to bring more tragedy to the women of Afghanistan.

The U.S. military may have removed the Taliban, but it installed warlords who are as anti-woman and as criminal as the Taliban. Misogynistic, patriarchal views are now embodied by the Afghan cabinet, they are expressed in the courts, and they are embodied by President Hamid Karzai.

Paper gains for women’s rights mean nothing when, according to the chief justice of the Afghan Supreme Court, the only two rights women are guaranteed by the constitution are the right to obey their husbands and the right to pray, but not in a mosque.

These are the convictions of the government the U.S. has helped to create. The American presence in Afghanistan will do nothing to diminish them.

Sadly, as horrifying as the status of women in Afghanistan may sound to those of us who live in the West, the biggest problems faced by Afghan women are not related to patriarchy. Their biggest problem is war.

….in the eight years since the U.S. invasion, opium production has exploded by 4,400 percent, making Afghanistan the world capital of opium. The violence of the drug mafia now poses greater danger to Afghanistan and its women than the rule of the Taliban.

Some of the biggest drug-traffickers are part of the U.S. puppet regime. To make matters worse, corruption in the Afghan government has never been so prevalent — even under the Taliban. Now, even Western sources say that only pennies of every dollar spent on aid reach the people who need it.

If coalition forces are really concerned about women, these are the problems that must be addressed. The military establishment claims that it must win the military victory first, and then the U.S. will take care of humanitarian needs. But they have it backward.

Improve living conditions and security will improve. Focus on security at the expense of humanitarian goals, and coalition forces will accomplish neither. The first step toward improving people’s lives is a negotiated settlement to end the war.

The U.S. presence in Afghanistan is doing nothing to protect Afghan women. The level of self-immolation among women was never as high as it is now. When there is no justice for women, they find no other way out but suicide.

Columbia Professor Lila Abu-Lughod, a woman of Palestinian descent, writes: “We need to be suspicious when neat cultural icons are plastered over messier historical and political narratives; so we need to be wary when Lord Cromer in British-ruled Egypt, French ladies in Algeria, and Laura Bush, all with military troops behind them, claim to be saving or liberating Muslim women.”

It’s sad to see western feminists being used as tools for the military occupation of a country, but it shows how political affiliations of the left and the right converge when it comes to certain policies such as military expansion and imperialism over poor people who are far removed from the West’s reality.

The wars on drugs and terror converge


In an earlier post I mused,

I wonder whether Ecstasy is included in the “Western” drugs given to Afghans and whether trade between such traditional drugs from the west are bartered for the cash crop of Afghanistan, opium?

The more Americans go to Afghanistan to fight, the more we back on the “homeland” will have to deal with a drug problem both with those soldiers who are users as well as those who are dealers.  Perhaps the US government will attempt to profit from the Afghan misadventure and try to recoup some of the money lost on this losing effort by institutionalizing the harvesting, transporting and dispensing of drugs on the “homeland”.  Our neighbors to the north, Canada, already has to face an increasing “problem” with their forces and Afghan drugs.

There’s a “high probability” some Canadian troops serving in Afghanistan – one of the world’s biggest sources of illegal drugs – will get involved in the drug trade, a military police report warns.

“Access to illicit drugs in Afghanistan is routine,” reads the report obtained by the Star.

The present generation of America’s leaders are Vietnam era aged politicians and soldiers who should be able to remember the problems US forces had with drug use and trafficking during that war. As that war progressed and soldiers on the ground began to see and sense its futility, drugs were a means of escape as well as profit for some who served in the military.  In many ways, this war offers the same parallels.  An elusive enemy, mission creep, the inability of the government to define what is winning and when military personnel can return stateside, an even more hostile environment and forgetfulness by a nation tired of remote wars and the accompanying diminishing of enthusiasm for this latest one.  Unfortunately, Obama perhaps too young to remember these problems tends to be headed in the direction of catastrophe with his pronouncement that he will have a surge of US forces in Afghanistan.  The more things change, the more they remain the same.